Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
But better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.
Dance Off November 2015
It’s not uncommon for bands to break up or change members. It is uncommon for previous band members to contact us about what other members are writing on Wikipedia. We received an email from purported former members of a dance group, seeking to control the English Wikipedia article about the group. They argued that edits made by other members infringed their trademark. We explained that writing an article about a notable topic is not infringement, and suggested that they work with the Wikipedia editor community if they’d like to improve the article.
Copywrong October 2015
Owning a copy of a photograph is not the same thing as owning the copyright to that photograph. This is an important principle of copyright law. We received a handful of requests to remove photos from the projects in which the requesting parties argued that because they owned a photo, they owned the copyright. For example, one request concerned a photo of an American author. Since that picture is in the public domain, it could be freely posted. We explained this to the requester, and the image remains on the Wikimedia projects.
Hello, My Name Is… October 2015
An online rights agent representing an international pop star contacted us regarding the Romanian Wikipedia article about their client. They claimed that a reporter had published inaccurate information about the musician’s birth name, which had made its way into reputable secondary sources, and eventually onto Wikipedia. The agent asked us to change the article directly. We told them that the Foundation does not write or edit the projects, and explained they could provide our volunteer editors with reliable sources that included the correct name.
In 2014, a European court decision, Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja González, granted individuals the ability to request that search engines “de-index” content about them under the so-called “Right To Be Forgotten” doctrine. We believe that denying people access to relevant and neutral information is antagonistic to the values of the Wikimedia movement and have made a statement opposing the decision.
However, under the theory of the 'Right To Be Forgotten', we have started receiving direct requests to remove content from Wikimedia projects.*
* Please note that this information only reflects requests made directly to us. Wikimedia project pages continue to disappear from search engine results without any notice, much less, request to us. We have a dedicated page where we post the notices about attempts to remove links to Wikimedia projects that we have received from the search engines who provide such notices as part of their own commitments to transparency. But we suspect that many search engines are not even giving notice, which we find contrary to core principles of free expression, due process, and transparency.
Jul 2015 – Dec 2015
Total Number of DMCA Takedown Requests
Jul – Dec 2015
Percentage of Requests Granted
DMCA Takedown Notices
The Wikimedia community is made up of creators, collectors, and consumers of free knowledge. While most material appearing on Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed, on occasion, copyrighted material makes its way onto the projects.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision requires us to remove infringing material if we receive a proper takedown request. We thoroughly evaluate each DMCA takedown request to ensure that it is valid. We only remove allegedly infringing content when we believe that a request is valid and we are transparent about that removal. If we do not believe a request to be valid, we will push back as appropriate. To learn more about DMCA procedures, see our DMCA policy.
Below, we provide information about the DMCA takedown notices we have received in the past and how we responded to them.
[C]opyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.
Wikimedia editors work hard to ensure that media is uploaded to the projects under the appropriate license, even going beyond the requirements of copyright law in some cases. Due to their efforts, we receive relatively few DMCA notices, and we carefully evaluate the notices we do get. When we received a DMCA from a design group concerning a photo of one of their products on Wikimedia Commons, we denied it, because the request didn’t meet the law’s stringent standards. However, the community had concerns about the license, and decided on its own to remove the photo.
Let It Go December 2015
Sometimes a requester won’t take no for an answer, even when the law isn’t on their side. Last year, we received an email from a public relations firm that wanted us to remove an image of a rapper on Wikimedia Commons. Not terribly unusual—except that in September 2014, we had already explained to the same requester that the photo was properly licensed (see the story “No Take Backsies”, which originally appeared in our January 2015 Transparency Report). We denied this second request on the same grounds.
Bedtime Story December 2015
Thanks to the diligence of the Wikimedia community, the Wikimedia Foundation receives a relatively small number of DMCA takedown notices. Most of these notices tend to concern photographs; however, on occasion, some allege that copyrighted text has appeared on the projects. We received a DMCA notice from a publishing company stating that text from one of its classic children’s books—the complete text of the book, in fact—had been posted on English Wikipedia. When we confirmed that the entire book had been improperly copied onto the projects, we removed the copyrighted text.